Each New Year brings many hopes, plans and a lot of preparations for launching into a new adventure. Some people enjoy welcoming in the New Year with family and friends, while others prefer a public celebration in the open air, enjoying the fireworks and concerts. But everybody is willing to start things off right the New Year.
At the turn of the year, millions of people from every corner of the world observe traditions and customs that have been in place for hundreds of years. Convinced that they will have as good a New Year as possible, full of love and abundance, people follow some rules with sanctity.
In the USA, it is a common tradition to sing “Auld Lang Syne” to greet the New Year, an Irish song bidding farewell to the old year, and eat black-eyed peas for good luck. Starting with 1907 New York City has hosted a massive party on Times Square. From this time on the festivities became a tradition. More and more people are gathering in the square for the last 10 seconds of the old year countdown. At midnight a huge ball is lowered. Initially the ball was illuminated and made of wood and iron, now it is covered with Waterford crystals which makes it brightly shine.
The tradition is to eat some specific food for having luck in the New Year: like pork, which brings prosperity. People like the idea of moving forward into the Near Year because pigs dig with their snout in a forward motion. Another symbol of prosperity is cabbage prepared as a side dish for pork. A popular southern dish is black-eyed peas. The circle look of "eyes" on the black-eyed peas symbolizes the completed year circle, and also wealth.
Many African-Americans celebrate "Watch Night" in their local churches as a remembrance of the Emancipation Proclamation's signing on January 1, 1863.
The Spanish are accustomed to eat a grain of grapes for each of the 12 beats of the clock at midnight. Each grain represents a wish for the coming year and it is believed that, depending on how sweet the grape is, so will that month be – good or difficult.
And the Portuguese have the same habit as the Spanish, replacing grapes with figs. After finishing, it’s customary to stick your head out of a window and bang together the lids of the pots and pans, or hit the pans with a wooden spoon – anything that will make lots of noise. Originally, this tradition was meant to ward off evil spirits. But for sure any sleeping neighbors will know exactly when the New Year has begun!
In Greece, tradition says it is good to have on the table a fried dish called "vassilopitta", in which is placed a gold or silver coin. Whoever finds it will be lucky all year. Cutting of this cake is a tradition that has been held for hundreds of years. Family members and friends gather around the table as pieces of the cake are distributed to everyone who is there. The head of the family, such as the father, is the one who cuts the cake. The first piece of the cake is dedicated to Christ. The second one is for the household. The rest of the pieces are for everyone present. This cake is served for dessert. Everyone is served their piece before they are permitted to look.
Belgians in some areas eat a preparation of pickled cabbage and sausages, having under a plate, in their pockets or in their hand a coin, just to have money all year.
In Scotland, tradition says that a family will have luck all the new coming year if on New Year's Eve the first person to come into the house is a dark-haired man bringing a gift. Otherwise, there is a superstition that next year will be one with bad luck. In Scotland New Year's Eve is called Hogmanay or Night of the Candle. Foods such as three-cornered biscuits called Hogmanay are eaten. Other foods that are special at this time of year are wine, cordials, cheese, bread, shortbread, oatcake, currant loaf, and scones. Some time ago, after sunset, people used to collect juniper and water to purify the home. They would perform a ritual of burning juniper branches that they carried throughout the house so as to remove any lurking germs and diseases.
In some Latin American countries, at 12 o'clock a certain color is worn in order to be lucky. Yellow is said to be a sign of money, while red is said to bring luck in love.
Russians believe that doors and windows should be open at midnight to let the new year enter into the house. Tables groan with traditional dishes that may seem odd to the untrained eye. The New Year's dinner would lose much of its flavor if it were not imbued with the mixed smells of freshly cut fir trees and the much-loved New Year's dessert – tangerines. Among the most famous dishes are red or black caviar, oliver - a mixture of finely chopped boiled eggs, sausages and marinated cucumbers, seasoned with the mayonnaise sauce – herring underfur, pickled cucumbers, meat jelly, different pies and, of course, champagne.
In some regions of Italy, old objects are thrown out the window, symbolizing the year that is just ending. This habit, however, is increasingly rare, because of the danger for the by-passers. Dinner is composed of 12 dishes or more dishes - 2 antipasti, 2 primi, 2 main courses, lentils for wealth, sorbet, dessert, 12 chicche d'uva (12 grapes) and coffee with petit fours.
Unmarried women in Belarus wait for New Year's Eve to find out if they are getting married in the coming year. They hold in their hands some corn kernels, with which they lure a cock. According to tradition, the girl to whom the cock crows will marry next year.
In Denmark, dishes are broken at the neighbors' door. The family with the most chunks gathered in front of the door will be most fortunate. The New Year's Eve meal is lighter in calories than the Christmas meal; the traditional meal consists of boiled cod, with home-made mustard sauce and all the extra sides. In some Danish households, cod is the first course, followed by a main dish of pork with kale, a type of cabbage with green or purple leaves.
Single Irish girls put mistletoe under the pillow that night to dream their true love. The Irish tradition says if you want to have a New Year filled with luck and abundance you should eat corned beef and cabbage along with potatoes, carrots and onions.
In Romania, on January 1st, the children use to go with the “sorcova” from house to house, in order to wish the people wealth and health. Initially the sorcova was made from the branches of fruit trees or roses, but nowadays it is made of colored and stained paper. Children wish the hosts wealth, long life and everlasting youth. It is a text like a spell meant to attract good spirits to the one to whom they wish.
In the countryside, young boys roam the village and make noises with whips, twigs or pots. They go from house to house, dancing traditional dances and making wishes for the New Year. They wear masks representing different animals, depending on the region: bear, goat, deer, and horse. The “Plugusorul” is a very old carol reminding of the ancestors of Romania, Romans and Dacians, and their permanence on the same territory of Romania. It is also about wishing a rich year in crops and cattle. New Year’s Eve dinner consists of fish, a symbol of abundance. It is said that one who eats fish slip more easily from troubles - also grapes, pork meat and a festive cake.
For the French, there's no single food tradition. People may choose to serve anything from a formal meal to something buffet style for a party—but no matter what's being served, it's sure to be a feast. Champagne is a must, as are good wine, oysters, cheese, and other gourmet delicacies! The start of the New Year controls its future course.
May your New Year start with the finest food, drinks, and company and continue on for a prosperous 2020!